Now in its second season Randy and Jason Sklar’s sports themed web series Back on Topps is nearing the finish line. The twin brothers are working hard to keep their sports card company afloat in a world where stalkers have stalkers and people are not always what they seem. Fill out each episode with wacky scenarios and hilarious cameos and your have a playbook for a winning show. Speaking of winning that’s just what they did at the Streamys, injecting even more humor into their acceptance speech and just about everything the Sklar brothers do. We asked Jason Sklar to give us a peek inside the Back on Topps locker room and asked them about their game-plan, strategy, and who’s recruiting them next.
Tubefilter: Now that you are finished with the second season, how are things in Back on Topps land?
Jason Sklar: Things in Back on Topps Land are a bit dicey at this point. Leyland and Leif Topps have just discovered first hand, that the odd gentlemen who were claiming to be hosts of a Christian dating service, ‘Cross My Heart’ are not who they say they are. Either way, the season ended on a cliff hanger and we will have to wait until the next installments to find out what happens.
Tubefilter: Where did the original idea for the show come from?
Sklar: The original idea from the show was born out of the reality of what happened to the company in real life. Michael Eisner bought the Topps trading card company and wanted to create a comedic web series that would help bring Topps Trading cards along into the digital age — and create a new relevance for the brand. Steven Cohen at Tornante had been a fan of ours from the work we had done on Cheap Seats and he tapped us to come up with a web series and the result was Back on Topps.
Tubefilter: Being twins and working together means a lot of togetherness. What is the most challenging thing about working together?
Sklar: We tend to be hard on ourselves and because we are so close we will be as hard on each other as we are on ourselves, which at times can be challenging for us and the people who work with us. And by challenging, we mean, thoroughly entertaining.
Tubefilter: OK now time to get mushy, what is the best thing about working your twin brother?
Sklar: The best part about working together is that we never question each other’s commitment to the work and we are usually on the same page comedically which is nice and opens things up for some fun riffing.
Tubefilter: In the show, you and Randy play Leyland and Leif Topps of Topps sports cards. Do you each have your own sports card collections?
Sklar: We had a joint collection. Actually still have it somewhere in our parents’ basement in St. Louis. Unfortunately when we were 16 we had to sell some of our favorite cards to help pay for car repairs when Randy accidently drove our Pontiac 6000 LE over a median.
Tubefilter: Jason Nash plays your stalker. Does he stalk you in real life too?
Sklar: No. Often times, we will stalk him. He leads a very interesting life.
Tubefilter: Ed Helms, Brian Huskey, Chris Hardwick and other comedians have been on Back on Topps. If you could get any athlete in the world to do a cameo on the show, who would it be?
Sklar: I think it would be fun to do something with Ron Artest. He seems like someone who can’t differentiate between real life and fiction. But to be honest, we’d settle for a Williams sister.
Tubefilter: What has been your favorite scene to film?
Sklar: In this past season, we did a fast paced scene for episode 8 — a conference call with Rahm Emanuel (played brilliantly by Jimmy Pardo). In the scene, we were constantly being interrupted by our Stalker (Jason Nash) our stalker’s wife (Maggie Kiley) and our Stalker’s Stalker (Rich Fulcher from The Mighty Boosh). The timing was rapid fire and with each interruption, Jimmy Pardo as Rahm was trying to catch up with the goings on. It was a lot of fun and once we got into a rhythm it almost felt like a more profane Neil Simon play.
Tubefilter: What is strangest thing that happened on the set?
Sklar: In season 1, Dennis Rodman did a cameo and he sexually harassed one of our actresses and we ended up using it in the show. That was pretty crazy.
Tubefilter: What did you think about the Streamy Awards and your big win?
Sklar: That was a lot of fun. We were so surprised when we won. It really was a shock, but it felt great. Any time the show can get some good press and more people watching, we are thrilled.
Tubefilter: Now that you have a successful web series, what do you think is the impact of Web TV in the entertainment landscape?
Sklar: There are some really exciting shows on the web, and you can certainly do things on the web that you cannot do on television. Web shows are now beginning to serve as incubators for television ideas. With some development and expansion some web shows are becoming great TV shows. Also, it’s interesting to see some cable networks beginning to offer programs that are 11 minutes long — two episodes per half hour. It’s almost like television is imitating the web in terms of show structures. That’s a clear sign that the web is effecting other platforms.
Tubefilter: What other web series do you watch? Which one is so good you wish you created it?
Sklar: We watch a lot of stuff on the web. We are fans of Wainy Days, (anything David Wain does, really) and Pilot Season on My Damn Channel. We also love Rich Dicks and MA Men on Funny Or Die. But probably our favorite series that is so good we wish we created it has got to be Drunk History by Derek Waters. You watch someone get drunk and talk about history and it’s acted out by famous comedic actors, and produced and edited so well. It’s really the web at it’s best.
Tubefilter: With all of the sponsors and producers, is Back on Topps paying your bills?
Sklar: Back on Topps pays a few bills, but it’s the creative freedom the web offers that makes doing something like this, so rewarding.
Tubefilter: If you had to dream up a wacky marketing campaign right now—what would you do to promote the show?
Sklar: I’d like to throw out the first pitch at one of the playoff games as Leif Topps and have Randy as Leyland Topps stand in the batters box. I’d like to throw it at his head and then have him rush the mound and then re-enact every single great Batter/Pitcher brawls on the mound for like 5 minutes in front of everyone.
Tubefilter: What else are you working on?
Sklar: Right now we are developing a half hour narrative sports comedy pilot for Comedy Central, partially inspired by Back on Topps.
Catch episodes of Back on Topps on My Damn Channel, Hulu, Blip.tv, and on the Back on Topps site. It’s a comedy touchdown.
Photo credit: The Bui Brothers